April 27, 2020

Dear Star Island Family,

It is with heavy hearts, and also with deep compassion, that we announce today that we cannot safely open Star Island this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We, along with Star Island’s senior staff and many volunteers, have been working over the past two months in a thoughtful and collaborative way, with the safety and well-being of our community as the top priority. Our assessment that Star Island cannot safely open this season is based on the best information we have at this time, including input from our Health Committee, other medical professionals, and government agencies. While our hope throughout has been to find a way to open safely in 2020, we cannot envision a scenario in which this would be possible. We share the hope that the effects of this pandemic will take a turn for the better at some point in the months ahead, however, we do not foresee safely convening large groups of people on the island at any point this summer. Considering the potential risks to individuals, our island community, our organization, and the greater human community, of which we are all a part, we believe the responsible course is to act with caution to ensure our ability to safely reopen in the future.

We realize this is heavy news to deliver at a time of great challenge for the world, and for many of us personally. Like you, we have been looking forward to our time on Star Island this summer as a source of hope and rejuvenation; knowing this won’t happen is incredibly difficult and sad. We also know that many people are hurting right now, affected by unemployment, illness, grief, and the struggles of isolation. We are fortunate to be part of an exceptionally supportive community. We are here for each other, and we are buoyed by the memories of our time on Star, by the lasting connections we have formed there, and by our shared hope that we may safely reunite on our precious island in future summers.

You may also be wondering if Star is going to get through this crisis – will the island and the Star Island Corporation survive? The answer is yes, and this is because of the strength of our community. While the COVID-19 pandemic is dealing a major financial blow, we have held strong for over one hundred years. Through many significant challenges, including the 1918 influenza pandemic, two World Wars, and the island opening late in 2007, we have risen together as a community. We will rise together again.

This moment of historic challenge presents an opportunity for those among us who are in a position to give, to do so on behalf of those in our community who want to help right now but can’t. Getting through this crisis will take extraordinary support from our community. Generous stewardship this year from our Star Island family will carry Star Island through until we can all safely gather there again. While being mindful of the current challenges, our vision is focused on a strong long-term future for Star Island. Please consider supporting us now. You will hear more from up on this in the coming days and weeks.

Our Star Island values call upon us to serve a greater purpose. We are inspired by the kindness, drive, and generosity demonstrated by so many in our Star Island family over the recent weeks. We see you volunteering by sewing masks, ensuring that school children are fed, providing homes to foster animals, working in hospitals, offering pastoral care, securing food for older neighbors – the list goes on. Now, more than ever, we must be guided by the Star Spirit of caring for others.

We know that you will have questions, concerns, and ideas. This is an historic moment for Star Island, and there are many, many implications. Please let us know your thoughts – The Star Island team is here for you, now and in the days and weeks ahead:

  • Island Minister Sophia Lyons has convened a Star Island Pastoral Care Team whose sole aim is to offer ministerial support. Please contact Sophia at slyons@starisland.org if you wish to connect with a member of this team.
  • If you have already registered to come to a 2020 conference, you will be hearing from us soon about your refund. If you have questions, please contact Mike Bray, Island Registrar, at mbray@starisland.org.
  • You can make a donation at www.starisland.org/donate. If you would like to discuss your gift or have questions about your options, please contact Peter Squires, Director of Development, at psquires@starisland.org.
  • If you are a conference leader and have questions about your conference, please contact Justina Maji, Conference Center Director, at jmaji@starisland.org.
  • If you were scheduled to work in 2020 and have questions, please contact Kate Brady, Office Manager, at kbrady@starisland.org.
  • And of course, if you want to connect with our CEO directly, please contact Joe Watts (jwatts@starisland.org).

We are all part of the Star Island family, and we are in this together. We will gather again on Star Island, when we can do so safely. We will, indeed, come back!

With Love and Star Spirit,

Joe Watts
Chief Executive Officer

And the Star Island Corporation Board of Directors:

Nick Dembsey, President
Tom Coleman, Vice President
Jeff Loewer, Treasurer
Mary Trudeau, Clerk
Keri Mattaliano, President, Star Island United Church of Christ
Nathan Soule, President, Isles of Shoals Association – Unitarian Universalist
Kyle Belmont
Erik Cordes
Leon Dunkley
Debbie Duval
Gary Kunz
Celeste Magliocchetti, Pelican Liaison
Arlyn Weeks
Louise Williams